International Chemistry Olympiad

Chemistry fans from all over the world visit Empa

Jul 27, 2023 | ANNA ETTLIN
Mentors of the 55th International Chemistry Olympiad paid a visit to Empa and Eawag and got to know the two research institutes in lab tours and lectures.
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Guests from almost 90 countries: IChO was held in Switzerland for the first time this year. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari

On Wednesday, July 19, around 180 mentors from the 55th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) visited Empa and Eawag. In lectures, panel discussions and, of course, lab tours, the guests got to know the two research institutes of the ETH Domain. There was no room for boredom: The program included visits to Empa's NEST, move and ehub demonstrators, Eawag's Aquatikum and various laboratories, with topics ranging from analytical chemistry to high-performance ceramics.

Mentor Andrea Barcia from Ecuador especially enjoyed Empa's Transport at Nanoscale Interfaces lab, where scientist Peter Nirmalraj presented his team's Alzheimer's research. "I found it very exciting to see a physicist working on such a chemical and biological topic," Barcia says.

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Eawag researcher Ksenia Groh (left) moderates a panel discussion between Lorenz Marti of the University of Zurich, Bernd Nowack of Empa and Kathrin Fenner of Eawag. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari
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Mentors of the Chemistry Olympiad listen to the presentations of Empa and Eawag researchers. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari
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Empa researcher Adrian Wichser from the Advanced Analytical Technologies laboratory talks about microanalysis of solid samples. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari
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Among other things, the mentors were able to visit the two Empa demonstrators NEST and ehub. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari
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Between lab tours, the visitors still found time for a poster session. Image: ETH Zurich / Luca Ferrari
This year was the first time the IChO was held in Switzerland, at ETH Zurich. Some 900 participants, mentors and volunteers from nearly 90 countries traveled to Zurich for the event. In the Olympiad, secondary school students put their knowledge and skills in chemistry to the test by both writing a theoretical exam and competing in laboratory experiments.